As I have stated in the past, the neighborhood I grew up in wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t the greatest either. On a scale of 1 (great) and 10 (horrible), Suburbanites would have put it at about an 8 while those with street knowledge would have probably ranked it a 6. Yet, my suburban church and schoolmates always made me feel like my neighborhood and the dark-skinned people that looked like me were rotten to the core, unable to govern themselves or control their lust for violence and depravity. Even as an adult now, I still hear the comments with many I interact with at church, my neighborhood, school and work.
I remember seeing this movie by Eddie Murphy (back when nearly everything he touched turned to gold, well, except this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_HkH-plx7U) called Trading Places where he played a guy named Valentine, a street-hustler. This movie taught me a lesson about a concept that even has an anthem and I continue to believe in to this day:
The World Is A Ghetto
The dominant color group in America tends to associate violent acts with those in the minority color groups. Dan Ackroyd demonstrated in Trading Places that under the right circumstances, even the rich would rob, steal and kill to “make ends meet”.
In the movie, Rudulph Duke delivered the punch-line, “We took a perfectly useless psychopath like Valentine, and turned him into a successful executive. And during the same time, we turned an honest, hard-working man into a violently, deranged, would-be killer!”
But long before, the book of Proverbs stated:
7Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
The words of Agur son of Jakeh
English Standard Version (ESV)
While Agur was a man of God, he knew that things could get so bad in his life that he might become a criminal (or “hustle” as many say in today’s world) in order to survive.
“Survival” is relative as millions more know the difference in not having the means to get food and water, and not having food and water.
So why is the world a ghetto? Because no matter how nice your suburb, from an infrastructure and social perspective, understand that your neighborhood would be the same way as that “ghetto” if you had the same problems. Publicly, the only reason many areas are not considered even worse is because of the free-pass many in the suburbs are given because, “We never thought something like this would happen out here…”. Two weeks later “it” happens again and someone’s on the local news saying, “Things like this just never happen out here…”
Now, how do I know? Because as a child I went to school in a blue-collar middle-class suburban neighborhood and to church in a suburban affluent neighborhood. As an adult, I’ve worked mostly and now live in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. I’ve heard the comments and carefully observed the changes, and there is a great hypocrisy.
So this was just an introduction to a series of future installments titled: The World Is A Ghetto, which will highlight the hypocrisy. The ghetto isn’t just your local big city with abandoned buildings, crackheads, assaults and burglaries. Yes, where you and I live has those same “ghetto” tendencies lying dormant in our city’s DNA (to my siblings, DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid).
Now the lessons for CornerstoneDads? Teach your children that they are not less prone to sin against God and others because of the shade of their skin or where they live.
If you disagree, lets just take a little test, as you may be saying, “We’ve pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps and worked hard for everything unlike those other folks…we are better than they are!”
Dad, have you ever stolen anything? You know, something from work or your neighbor? How about that item that you never returned when you could have numerous times, but you said, “They won’t miss it.”
Dad, have you ever lied? You know, to the government (after all, taxes are just plain “wrong”), to your insurance carrier (is it really fair that they charge so much and you’ve never filed a claim?)
If you answered yes to the above, and I know you did because you’re an honest guy, that means you and I are no different than the folks in the “ghetto” that lie, cheat and steal. While the victims may be different, the rationale and sin is not.
You need a Savior, and money, “values”, and tradition will not save you.
I didn’t even touch on so-called “white collar” crime that reign supreme in the suburbs. The bottom line is that crime happens everywhere. Regardless of a city’s dominant color group or social class, people will rob, steal, kill, not remove the snow or cut the grass at your local ball field, etc. if the social conditions were set just right and money gets tight.
A policeman put it best when he reflected the lawlessness experienced in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “People would be surprised at how little separates us from complete anarchy in this country.”
Nope, I’ve studied human behavior for quite some time now, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
Check out the video below on the new “thang”, Flash Robberies…and I don’t think they were stealing to survive.